By Cliff Akalonu
The Lagos State Chapter Chairman of the Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters (ATBOWATON), Engineer Lawal Saheed has stated that the major objective of the members of the association is to ensure the safety of water users and not profit-making.
He also credited the members for selflessly pioneering the opening and sustenance of abandoned, unprofitable water ferry routes and discovery of new ones for the benefit of littoral communities in Lagos, thereby helping the unreached rural areas to be reached.
“Lagos Chairman explained that the history and role of ATBOWAN cannot be overemphasized as we are at the forefront of helping to develop rural Lagos and provide desirable and gainful boat ferry services to the people.
Our members are caterpillars of development, providing access to inter-communal movement, supporting the state government in reaching the unreached from Victoria Island to Badore, Ikorodu, Epe, Badagry, Ojo, Liverpool, Festac, Takwa Bay and many other places, bridging services and human movement with safety in mind and not profit.”
Responding to media enquires regarding the presence and role of its members on water transportation development in Lagos, Engineer Lawal Saheed further added that ATBOWAN is a partner to Lagos government and had at various times stood in the gap to provide succour to stranded Lagosians who lives close to waterfront communities and at critical times, intervened to keep abandoned jetties afloat and useable, spending their hard-earned money.
“A lot of our members invested to broker new routes, and maintain access roads upland to most of the jetties at no additional cost to government and people living by the waters or using same to reach their homes in the hinterlands.
“Pioneers like our national president, Mr. Tarzan Balogun invested so much in Badore, Ikorodu and even what we know as Victoria Island waterfront and there are also many small-time operators that were consistent in providing services for the people from the islands to Mainland without which nobody can readily lay claim to the development of these places. Between Ijede, Badore, Ikorodu, Epe, Badagry, and Victoria Island, our members can be seen moving passengers in droves, putting safety ahead of other considerations.”
According to the Lagos State Chapter Chairman, the presence of ATBOWATON members on Lagos Waterways transportation and their importance cannot be demystified by any competition with the acclaimed advantage which ATBOWATON members helped to enthrone and sustain.
He called on Lagos Government to support ATBOWATON members to sustain the effective boat transport services across the length and breathe of the state in order to open up more communities to develop and job openings in tourism and recreation.
“Our members know the waters and the challenges and have continued to offer more affordable services to poor rural communities in Lagos. And we want to thank NIWA for removing wrecks and abandoned vessels from the waterway which has contributed immensely to safety and the near absence of accidents on the waterways in recent times,” he added.